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2 N.J.A.R. 100

Motor Vehicles, Division of v. DePalma, Ann
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Citation: 2 N.J.A.R. 100
Decision Date: 1981
Agency: DIVISION OF MOTOR VEHICLES
Synopsis: On the basis of N.J.S.A. 39:5-30, the Division of Motor Vehicles proposed to suspend the driving privileges of Ann DePalma for a period of 18 months because of her alleged involvement in a fatal accident. The respondent was charged with violations of N.J.S.A. 39:4-129 (leaving the scene of an accident, NULL, NULL, NULL); N.J.S.A. 39:4-130 (failure to report an accident to the police by the quickest available means, NULL, NULL, NULL); and N.J.S.A. 39:4-97 (careless driving). After a hearing, the administrative law judge found that the respondent was the driver of a vehicle which struck and killed a pedestrian on a public highway in New Jersey. However, the judge also found that at the time of the accident the respondent was driving within the speed limit, in a normal manner and was maintaining her observation of the roadway as she passed from a lighted intersection into a darker area of the roadway and struck a pedestrian who was wearing dark clothing and was highly intoxicated. Accordingly, the judge concluded that the respondent was not opearting her vehicle carelessly or in a manner contrary to N.J.S.A. 39:4~97. The administrative law judge also found that at the time of the accident, the respondent believed someone had thrown an object at her vehicle and did not know that she had struck an object. While N.J.S.A. 39:4-129(e) provides that a driver involved in an accident resulting in injury or death to another person or $250 property damage shall be presumed to have knowledge of the accident, the judge observed that this presumption was rebuttable and that the evidence presented was sufficient to rebut the presumption of respondent's knowledge. Since the respondent was unaware of the accident, the judge concluded the respondent had not violated N.J.S.A. 39:4~ 129 by knowingly leaving the scene of an accident. The judge did find that once the respondent had knowledge of the collision and the damage to her own vehicle, she failed to give notice of State of New Jersey 101 the accident to the police by the quickest means possible. Based upon this finding, the administrative law judge concluded that the respondent had violated N.J.S.A. 39:4-130. On the basis of these conclusions, the administrative law judge ordered a one month suspension of the respondent's driving privileges which the judge felt served the rehabilitative, punitive and deterrent purposes of the license suspension provisions ofN.J.S.A. 39:5-30. Gary P. $arlo, Deputy Attorney General for the Petitioner (John J. Degnan, Attorney General of New Jersey, Attorney) Richard Galex, Esq. for the Respondent (Hellbrunn, Finkelstein, Hellbrunn, Garruto and Galex, Attomeys)
Statute(s) Cited: 39:4-97 39:4-129 39:4-130 39:5-30